Chants of “M-V-P” followed Angels star Mike Trout to the plate as he prepared for his first at-bat at Oakland Coliseum Tuesday night. He placated the fans in the sparse crowd instantly, smashing a home run 437 feet to left field on the first pitch he saw. His 44th homer of the season pushed him into another tie for the MLB lead and gave the Angels an early advantage over the Oakland Athletics.
The first-inning homer, however, didn’t hold up. The Angels lost 7-5 after Seth Brown, who tripled home Oakland’s first run of the game, hit a go-ahead RBI triple off reliever Noe Ramirez in the sixth inning.
“The stuff looks very similar,” Ausmus said of Ramirez, who has allowed eight earned runs in 8 1/3 innings since missing a few weeks because of an illness. “It’s just sometimes the execution.”
Albert Pujols hit the 654th homer of his career in the fourth inning, cutting the Angels’ deficit to 5-3. He is now six shy of tying Willie Mays, who is fifth on the all-time list. Justin Upton went two for three with a walk and joined the long-ball barrage, his solo homer tying the game at 5-5 in the sixth and taking Angels starter Jaime Barria off the hook for a defeat.
Barria permitted five runs, four earned, in four innings. Three of them scored on one swing of Matt Chapman’s bat, which connected on a third-inning homer that banged off the outer center-field wall for a 5-2 Oakland lead.
The Athletics might not have had a chance to spoil the Angels’ fortunes if four-time Gold Glove-winning shortstop Andrelton Simmons had cleanly fielded a ball swatted at him by Robbie Grossman in the third. Simmons, positioned on the right side of the infield, instead struggled to capture the ball then over-threw it to second base. The ball sailed over the head of David Fletcher and skittered toward the third-base line. Simmons was charged two errors on the play, which put two runners on for Chapman.
“A good throw and he’s out,” Simmons said. “After messing up, if I still give him a good feed, he’s out. I didn’t do that.
“Unfortunately Fletcher isn’t LeBron James, so he didn’t catch it.”